Late August in Maine means that many of us are furiously trying to fit in a few more lake days, gorging on lobster rolls and ice cream, and squeezing every last drop out of these long, warm days. For some, the end of summer means getting ready to head to college. Those back-to-school days can be absolutely exhilarating, but the to-do lists can also be a little daunting: spend quality time with your family and friends before you go, register for classes, buy books, connect with roommate(s), pack. And pack. And pack.
One more thing to add to the list before you head to campus? Birth control.
If you live in Maine now, there’s probably a family planning clinic near you–and if you’re attending college in Maine, chances are that there will also be a clinic near your campus. If you’re not already using a birth method or if you think a different method could work better for you once you’re at college, consider making an appointment before you leave for school. With most methods, you’ll be protected from pregnancy immediately or within a week. And because each of our 18 health centers are part of a connected network, you can continue your care (and pick up refills!) at a clinic near your campus.
Too much to do before you get to campus? Visit a Maine Family Planning clinic once you’re settled. There’s a Maine Family Planning (or Planned Parenthood) clinic near every University of Maine and Community College campus, as well as most private university campuses in Maine.
Why start thinking about birth control now? The research shows that college students are much more likely to stay in school and to graduate if they are able to prevent pregnancy while in college. It’s something that college students know to be true, as well– 80% of students say that having a child while still in college would make it harder to accomplish their goals. For those who are sexually active, planning ahead and consistently using a reliable form of birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Don’t need birth control? Consider checking in with your local family planning clinic anyway. We see plenty of people who don’t use birth control, either because they rely on their partner to use contraception, because they don’t have the kind of sex that can result in pregnancy (for example, they might have a same-sex partner or be post-menopausal), or simply because they are not sexually active. It’s still a good idea for anyone who is sexually active to be tested for STDs regularly (annually or with each new partner) and to have an annual exam.
Maine Family Planning clinics are a great option if you’re looking for some additional privacy (they’re nearby, but not right on campus)– and all of our services are confidential, even if you’re under 18. We carry every FDA-approved method of birth control, including emergency contraception, and we accept all forms of insurance (including MaineCare). University of Maine system schools now require students to have health insurance, but that’s not true of all colleges in Maine– for those without insurance coverage, we offer services on a sliding fee scale.
Of course, whether you’re a college student, still in high school, or planning for your 10 (or 20!) year class reunion, you can pick up condoms, get birth control, and get tested for STDs at any of Maine’s Family Planning clinics.